How do you handle Twitter when you operate websites and Twitter accounts in two languages with users spread out across two or three continents and myriad cultures? Ask FlightMemory and FlugStatistik.
That's the conundrum that FlightMemory and FlugStatistik, two flight-data websites under common ownership, find themselves in.
The two websites -- one in English, largedly geared for the U.S., Canada and Australia, and the other in German, mainly for Germany, Austria and Switzerland -- are a joint venture between Heret Informatic Service and Koordinaten. FlugStatistik debuted in late 2005 and its English-language counterpart arrived in April 2007.
For aviation, data and mapping buffs, the websites are designed to enable consumers "to easily keep track of where you have flown and then easily produce maps showing your flight routes," FlightMemory says. "We'll also tell you your total time in the air, distance flown and even keep track of aircraft types and airlines."
But whether @FlightMemory is tweeting about aircraft or @FlugStatistik is tweeting about Flugzeugtypen, Sam Liban, the company's business development person, says the dual Twitter roles are challenging because of the necessity to tweet about two brands and because "applicable content for both parties needs to be translated, duplicated and relinked."
And, of course, content about U.S. or German airlines, for instance, may be a big bore to the followers of the other Twitter account.
So, for companies rolling out websites in multiple countries, the social media work multiplies and gets much more complicated.
And, if the tweeting for several countries is all sourced in a single country, time zone issues come into play, as well.
Liban says FlightMemory and FlugStatistik have to be aware that prime time for tweeting is spread across Eastern Standard Time, Pacific Standard Time and Central European Time zones.
Liban also perceives differentiated follower behavior and cultural differences for the company's English language FlightMemory and German language FlugStatistik Twitter accounts.
In general, Liban says, FlightMemory followers tend to be "more open" and "easier to follow and connect" with. In addition, using the FlightMemory Twitter account, the company has found it easier to establish "great connections" with influential aviation bloggers.
Corporations on the English language side of the Twittersphere also seem to be "rather open-minded about Twitter connections," Liban says.
In contrast, FlugStatistik followers can be a bit "more closed" and tend to follow back only if the fit is just right, Liban says.
And, corporate behavior is different, too.
On the German-language side of the Twittersphere, many companies appear to be more "interested in distributing their content than in interacting with others," Liban observes.
Today, while FlugStatistik had 2,512 followers and FlightMemory counted 2,088, Liban says the FlightMemory account has been the more successful of the two so far.
Liban says the company has "made great connections" through the FlightMemory Twitter account and opened some new business opportunities, including partnerships.
"Twitter services are better accepted by the user base on FlightMemory," Liban says.
Still, the company is digging deeper into Twitter, hoping to make some gains across the culture-scape.
Liban says the company just opened two new Twitter accounts, @FlugzeugModelle and @AviationShop.
One is in German, one in English.
Bitte, follow them.